Intercept

Crime bias is induced by racial divides in America

Amanda Zhu, Reporter

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According to a study by CNN in 2016, both black and white people in the US had about 12% of their populations using drugs. But, black people who were convicted for drug use were six times as likely to be imprisoned than the white convicts.

Stanford alumni Basile Joeha presumes that it is because of our history of slavery and the fact that it has played a very important part in the establishment of our country.

“White people believe they are still the masters, and some blacks are trying to go back to the past and get justice,” Joeha said.

This bias is evident in punishments for different races who commit the same crime, specifically drug-related crimes.

Long-time police officer Carla Humphrey explained that people who sell crack cocaine, which typically is sold by African-Americans, receive a harsher punishment than others who sell pure cocaine, usually sold by Caucasians.

According to American Addiction Centers, ¼ of a gram of crack cocaine can be bought for about $40 today, in comparison to the $150-300+ spent to purchase 3.5 grams of pure cocaine. According to the documentary 13th, because crack cocaine is cheaper and more easily accessible than pure cocaine, it was fed into black neighborhoods and steadily became a very serious problem within those communities.

On the other hand, pure cocaine is more of a “high-end” drug mostly given to the wealthy and non-minorities. Despite the serious short-term and long-term effects of pure cocaine, possession of crack cocaine carries a more serious sentence today, which many believe is because it is associated with African-Americans and other minorities.

Humphrey believes that people are racist because it’s what they’ve been taught their whole life and it’s all they know. She thinks that people don’t appreciate you until they have a reason, or until you need to.

“Not until you get into a situation where you have to encounter somebody of a different race that maybe saves your life or helps you, it [will] change your perspective about that specific race,” Humphrey said.

Another example of bias dealing with race is the legality of marijuana. Davis Howard, 19, said that even the legality of marijuana had to do with race. He believes that the only reason marijuana was illegal for a long time and tobacco was not was because marijuana is associated with minorities such as Hispanics and African-Americans, while tobacco is associated with Caucasians.

Howard said that people believe marijuana causes a lot of societal problems, but that in reality it is not true.

“It literally doesn’t do any of that,” Howard said. “It’s purely because race is associated with that.”

Unfortunately, the bias in dealing out different punishments to different races is only a side effect of the main problem of racism in general. In a 2018 poll by NPR, 92% of African-Americans, 37% of Hispanics, and 35% of Asians who were surveyed felt discriminated against in daily life. These numbers are shockingly high, serving as a cause for alarm.

Lydia Pantouw, 39, believes that this is the wrong way to think. She describes how some people see the select few of a minority who act out, and then it’s assumed that their entire race is the same.

“I see there’s good people and bad people,” Pantouw said. “I don’t see the color, I don’t see the race.”

Coral Morenl, 19, thinks that all of these issues are caused by a simple racial bias. She said some people were taught that one race is different from another, and people are acting on the difference they believe exists.

Because of this, Morenl said that education is the solution to this profound issue in our society today.

“Educate people on genetics first of all, and prove there’s little to no difference between different races depending on skin color,” Morenl said. “Crack down on racial bias and make sure that people who are committing racial bias don’t get away with it.”

Similarly, Howard imagines that this issue can be resolved as well, but as an Asian-American, he thinks it will take a group effort between all minority groups to make a difference.

“Not just African Americans and Black Lives Matter, but more like having API Asians, Pacific Islanders,” Howard said. “A community working together with all other people and band together.”

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Race from the eyes of this generation
Crime bias is induced by racial divides in America